Siol Architects Harvey Milk Competition

Harvey Milk Plaza Competition

Harvey Milk understood the power of the collective transcending the individual. He also grasped that the role of society is to support mankind’s innate psychological, spiritual and sexual individuality. At the heart of this proposal is a topography designed for nurturing human potentiality and celebrating the vitality of public life.

Our proposal reclaims square footage space at the bridge level and creates a widened accessible route through the entire plaza. The lower garden has been filled, raised and integrated into this new plaza level. The existing bridge remains as a structural component while a section of the sidewalk retaining wall is lowered by to accommodate a direct connection from Market Street to the new plaza level. At the Market Street sidewalk, we propose a raised curb build-out at the flag and elevator location to allow for a multitude of functions to take place. It offers breathing room around the existing flag location while the raised plinths on the edge of Market Street gives a sense of security and offers seating to pedestrians experiencing the flag on the sidewalk level. The curb build-out also allows an accessible entry point and clearance to the new elevator level at the relocated bus drop off point on Market Street. The curb build-out also acknowledges the right turn lane onto Castro Street and has been intentionally set back 80’ from the traffic lights.

As part of the larger urban context, we propose a stronger pedestrian connection between the Corona Heights and Castro neighborhood. To ensure the Western edge of the plaza is continually activated we envisage a new crosswalk linking the pink triangle memorial, bus stop and the greater Corona Heights neighborhood. To amplify this pedestrian corridor, we propose creating a vehicular cul-de-sac at Collingwood Street.

The plinth topography becomes the actual canvas for public art. It is an ever-changing landscape that can be adapted on multiple levels. The plinths have boundless potentiality.

One of the most inspired events that arose from the death of Harvey Milk occurred that night when 40,000 supporters formed a spontaneous candlelight march from the Castro to City Hall to show their solidarity with both Harvey Milk and the gay rights movement. We propose honoring this event by illuminating the central path of the new plaza with 40,000 led pin lights integrated into the concrete pavers. This concept also aligns with our proposal for donor recognition of embedding brass rings into the pavers.

The individual and custom nature of the concrete forms allow for the donor names to be embedded into the top of each concrete paver. We envisage engraved brass rings to be flush mounted while an integrated led light will be located at the center point of each ring. The led pin lights are integral to the memorial concept of 40,000 lights.

Year: 2017
Location: Harvey Milk Plaza
Square Footage: 18,000
Typology: Urban Renewal